CEDAR PARK — The Texas Stars got the start they wanted, but this time it didn’t come with the finish in a 4-3 loss to the San Antonio Rampage.
After dominating the first period and taking a 1-0 lead early in the second, Texas allowed a trio of second period goals — and they weren’t pretty.
The first two where freebies from Maxime Lagace to Mikko Rantanen.
Rantanen’s first tally came on a seemingly harmless wrist shot at Lagace’s catching glove, which was mishandled by the Stars goalie and rolled into the net.
Lagace then made another mistake and turned the puck over behind his net. Rantanen capitalized and deposited the puck into the vacant net.
And Texas didn’t need mistakes, especially with how Calvin Pickard was playing on the other end of the ice.
Pickard turned away 45 shots, including 17 in the first period when Texas could have taken a multi-goal lead.
“We know the offensive power they have when they come at you in waves,” Rampage coach Dean Chynoweth said. “To come out zero-zero, we’ve got to thank our goalie for that one.”
Pickard was eventually given a 4-1 lead after goals by Joey Hishon and Trevor Cheek, which he needed as as the Stars stormed back in in a wild, controversy-filled third period.
Texas had it’s first fight of the season when Stephen Johns sparred with Duncan Siemens. This came a little bit before Patrick Bordeleau threw back-to-back questionable hits against Mattias Backman and Jason Dickinson.
The first blow to Backman left the Stars defenseman potentially with a “mild concussion” according to Stars coach Derek Laxdal, while he said he’ll let the league deal with the incident.
Pickard’s antics added to drama as the Stars charged back on goals by Jason Dickinson and Justin Dowling.
After Dowling’s goal, which made it a 4-3 game, Pickard gestured toward the referees and pointed at the scoreboard to complain about potential goaltender interference. After Travis Morin was called for interference late, he mockingly clapped his hands and pumped his fists. After the game ended he gave a big fist pump and slammed into the boards to celebrate with his teammates.
“There where some antics on the ice, there goaltender skating around and mocking the referee,” Laxdal said. “It’s not professional. But we’ve got to worry about what we do, and the best way to fix that is to bury some goals early on.”
When he was announced as the third star of the game — frankly, an injustice after he was the best player on the ice — fans at the Cedar Park Center heavily booed the Rampage goalie who responded with a golf clap.
The officials didn’t help Texas’ cause.
The referees missed multiple calls, including a late icing call that cost the Stars an offensive chance with 7.6 seconds remaining while it was a 6-on-4 situation.
“It was tough, there where two or three icings that were missed early in the game,” Laxdal said. “Then a few more late. It’s a little bit different when there is something on the line. When you’ve got a 6-on-5 or 6-on-4 situation and you got a chance to chase down a puck, now you got to go back to center ice … it’s tough. We feel like we deserved a better fate.”